In an attempt to fight child porn and child trafficking, Apple announced a new program that will scan iCloud photos for “flagged” for child porn and missing children.
According to the New York Post, Apple plans to use the database at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to help find photos of missing children. Google, Microsoft, and other tech companies currently scan photos uploaded to their server, but Apple has not until now.
With this announcement, many commentators came out to wonder how long it will take for the government to force Apple to use this tool to peer into users phones for more incriminating content. Apple has refuted these claims on their website.
“We have faced demands to build and deploy government-mandated changes that degrade the privacy of users before, and have steadfastly refused those demands,” Apple wrote. “We will continue to refuse them in the future.”
The first round of this program will only scan content uploaded to iCloud but Apple does plan to expand that to “on device content as well.
During this process, Apple would scan iCloud photos and attempt to match them to photos in the database. Should a match be found, local authorities will be notified.
Those who oppose this new service say that Apple should create a tool to be able to report abusive content to Apple as opposed to scanning users devices. No word on if users would be able to opt out of this new service.
COMMENTARY: Here is the only problem I have: Where will this stop. I am 100% for Apple creating tools to help stop child porn from being distributed and to fight human trafficking, but will it stop at just this?
What is stopping Apple from going a few steps further and scanning users text messages for select words like “vaccine” or “Mask”? Will Apple be able to scan photos on their iClouds for users gun collections?
And let us take a second to think about the possibility of an Apple employee being able to hack the system to scan for users private, intimate, and maybe even consenting sexual content on their iCloud and saving them to their personal devices. We had a case not that long ago of Twitter employees hacking into users DMs and saving said content to their devices. While Twitter denied these allegations, it isn’t improbable to assume this could happen.
All in all, I would like to hope that Apple would not abuse this tool in the future.